Hi everyone! This is Jen (in the blue gi), Dillon's wife and the 'overseer' of the website. We've been open for a few days and, boy, has it been busy here! It's been a hectic few weeks getting the gym up and going, but there is nothing quite as amazing as watching your hard work come to fruition.
I've only been training a year and a half (it's actually how I met my now-husband), and in that time I've asked countless people to come with me to class. There are usually two standard responses that I wanted to address.
1) I'm not in shape.
I promise you that most people are not in shape when they start - I certainly wasn't! When you begin, that's where we expect you to start...the beginning. Through training you get stronger, gain more endurance, and will see significant changes in your endurance (and weight!).
2) I'm too old.
This is ridiculous. Dillon's father didn't start training until he was 49. Every NAGA tournament I work (the North American Grappling Association has grappling tournaments around the world), there are men and women of all ages of all levels.
I think that the biggest obstacle for people is fear. None of us like doing poorly at something, especially in front of a bunch of strangers. Most of us are not naturally athletic, so learning something that is very physical can be difficult. Then, if you add in a martial art like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu where the idea of personal space is nonexistent, there is a whole new level of discomfort added in. I fit all of these, by the way. I'm not athletic, I don't like talking to new people, and I have some severe space issues.
That's why your environment and the people you are with matters. I began training at the American Top Team in East Orlando and the people around me were incredibly supportive. Everyone wanted to help you be better - higher belts had buckets of patience with me as I struggled to learn and maneuver my way around the mat. You have to overcome the fear of failure and the possibility of being uncomfortable. You will not always be successful at every move, but you only fail if you stop walking onto the mat. Learning and growth comes from the struggles. Your successes may be small (the day that I was only submitted three times was one of my greatest small moments), but each grows and snowballs into something greater. The day I got my first stripe on my white belt, I called everyone I knew - it was one of the best feelings of my entire life.
Jiu-Jitsu taught me a lot about myself. I am a lot stronger and more determined than I thought I was. It taught me skills that translate into the real world; as a woman, if I am attacked, I am most likely going to end up on the ground. However, that is where BJJ plays out and I know how to defend and attack from there.
If you are nervous about joining, you should come in anyway and let me know. Any questions you have, no matter how weird you think they are, we'll answer. If you're nervous, we can schedule an intro (free) beforehand to teach you some of the basic movements and positions so the you can start from knowing something.